Creating Happy Memories (Pt 1)

happy memories

Booking under: Keith

Two weeks ago, I made a commitment to lighten up. On the surface this seemed to be a very easy thing to achieve. After all, who doesn’t want to take things easily? But as I soon found out, the rigors of working life can make keeping commitments – even mental ones – quite difficult. Although it was not smooth sailing the whole time, let’s see how I did for this month’s commitments:

1. Re-frame a particular choice by deciding it was enjoyable

happy breakfast

Re-frame your choices positively. Frame your breakfast so that it looks happy!

Nope I did not end up singing in the morning like Gretchen did, but I did try to take a more positive attitude to things and told myself that I enjoyed the tasks I am doing. And while that sounds like lying to myself on the surface, I did find that approaching my work with an attitude of “I enjoy this” or “I have a lot to learn/gain from this” helped keep me energized even when the going got tough.

It’s been a hectic few weeks since coming back from our trip to Japan since I’ve not only had to catch up with my existing work streams but take charge of a new one. With new work responsibilities come new problems to figure out. And there were times when I wanted to bang my head at the computer screen when a particular problem got thorny (good thing I didn’t or this company would be out of computer screens soon. Or I’d be out of a job. Can’t tell which one would come first). However, by telling myself that I enjoy the process of problem solving, running my ideas through colleagues, and taking a needed break when I simply felt stuck, I found that I was able to eventually figure out the answer or at least make good progress.

To be honest, given how cynical I can be sometimes, I didn’t think simply telling myself I enjoyed something would actually make much of a difference, and it was often hard to remember to do this when I was getting swamped with work. But from what I can observe these past two weeks, I stand corrected – for now.

2. Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings

girls holding hands

Stand by others. Optional: holding hands and bending over backwards.

This took a little getting used to, but was still easier than item no. 1 above. During the course of the week, I had the opportunity to speak to some people close to me on small issues they had. Some had to do with relationships, and some had to do with health. Thankfully they were not huge issues, but I was happy to have a chance to practice this commitment. By taking their issues seriously and being there with them emotionally, instead of the usual “It’s ok” that we’re all so used to saying/hearing.

I’m very happy to report that this worked out rather well. By figuratively standing with the person I was hearing out, I was able to practice “walking in someone’s shoes” and think from their perspective. And from that point onwards, I seemed to hear a lot less of the “But…”s that people usually retort with if you simply dismiss their problems to avoid discomfort.

But… starting well is only half the battle. The challenge will be to continue until empathizing with others becomes natural instead of something I have to try to do. Here’s hoping I will continue to grow in this area!

3. Take time for experiences that will leave happy memories

Burano town

Thinking back to an experience that left a great memory. Burano 2015

Ah yes, the title of this week’s post. We chose it because it seems to encapsulate the larger theme of lightening up – we don’t just want to be happy in the moment, but create lasting positive memories. And what better way to create memories than to take a picture? Or to make something yourself? Or both?

That’s precisely what we did this last Saturday, as Nicole took me to one of her favorite places to art jam.  Now, anyone who has seen me draw knows I probably shouldn’t and anyone who has read my handwriting (ha just joking – no one can) knows I probably have severely underdeveloped motor control. Still, I have to say art jamming was a fun experience. While I don’t have anything near her level of talent (or the artistic competence of any normal human being), I enjoyed the (immense) challenge of outlining my painting and then bringing it to (disfigured) life using the tools in the studio. We had a good laugh (probably at my “painting”) and enjoyed a fun afternoon of just listening to music, putting our creative muscles to use, and simply being together. To have something we can bring home afterwards was merely the cherry on top.

From Last Month

Following on from March, I’ve been doing ok with writing each day. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve found that the key really boils down to committing to doing a little per day – my ideas come a lot easier this way too! As for asking for help, full marks there – largely because I still have so much to learn at work! Learning to work smart by taking strategic breaks is still a challenge since I’m so used to just sitting in my spot and try to plug away at the problem. Maybe I’ll use a smaller cup at work so I have to refill it more often! And finally, as I sort of mentioned above with re-framing my decisions, I am learning to enjoy the process of work. As for enjoying life outside of work, no worries there – I wouldn’t mind a little more of that!

Summing Up

to-do list

All in all, it’s been a successful month. I’m also surprised by how quickly we went from being a quarter done with the book to now crossing the one-third mark! But if the past is any indication, we’ll still have plenty to learn and practice in the coming months! That continues next week as Nicole shares how she’s been lightning up in April. Don’t miss out! And as always, we’re excited to hear your feedback here, or via


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